Monday, February 25, 2019
Philippians 3:13-14 …one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Regret is a deadly bondage of Satan. He uses it to keep us tightly bound in the chains of the past. He convinces us that the key God has given us to unlock the chains and be free will not work on our specific sins, shortcomings, and sufferings. After all, how can a key called forgiveness undo and repair all the damage that has been done?
Regret causes us to believe we deserve the chains. We allow ourselves to be controlled by our past and believe that our futures have been permanently marred. We contemplate and believe statements like, “Imagine what might have been,” and “If only I hadn’t…” and we become convinced that the future we could have had is far better than the one God will give us. We fail to rejoice in the present because it is always being compared to an imaginary future which is being controlled by an unforgiven past. We constantly crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow.
When the Apostle Paul contemplated his past in Philippians 3:5-6, he had much to remember and much to regret. He remembered the great start he had as a Jew – circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee. Then he remembered with regret the sins of misapplication of the truth – as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. He thought through all the ramifications of his sins and their lasting effect on his life and admits that he is not perfect. He says, “Imagine what might have been if I had made a different choice. If only I hadn’t participated in the murder of Stephen.”
Paul could have been controlled by the same regrets that bind you and me. But listen to what he says – But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
WOW! Forgiveness from God means that our past sins, shortcomings, and sufferings have no power to control us and that we are still able to pursue a prize that has been specifically chosen by God for us. Satan wants us to believe that the prize is sub-standard to the one we could have had. Forgiveness means that the prize has not changed. Satan wants us to believe that because we cannot undo the past we have a diminished future. Forgiveness means that our future is the glorious work of God for whom nothing is impossible. We can drown ourselves in regret, lose ourselves in nostalgia, or cling to those old injuries and losses. But if we do, it is our “choice,” not our destiny. Forgiveness guarantees God’s future and it is not based on our failures.
Marjorie Holmes, in an article called “Heart to Heart” in Today’s Christian Woman, writes, “One day, while I was grieving over some past failures, I received a letter from a friend who told me how she and her granddaughter had been watching a plane skywrite. The little girl was puzzled when the words began disappearing, but suddenly piped up, ‘Maybe Jesus has an eraser!’ In her innocent wisdom I realized that just as skywriting disappears, Jesus wipes away all things I so bitterly regret. No matter how much we mature as Christians, and try desperately to compensate, memories of our own failures can rise up and haunt us. But, with God’s forgiveness, they will fade away—Jesus does have an eraser.
Katherine Mansfield, an author who lived in the early part of the 20th century, wrote, “Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.”
That is what Satan wants you to do – wallow. Regret steals the joy of forgiveness and freezes you with fear of the future. God’s truth will set you free from regret and fear. When the guilt of sin and failure has been confessed to the Father with a repentant heart, He forgives the sin and removes the guilt. When we truly grieve over our sin and it brings us to repentance, God removes all regrets. Paul says, “you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief…[and] godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret. (2 Corinthians 7:9 – 10)
Regret is not from God. It is not part of our salvation. It is not a testing of your faith or a trial you must endure. It is only and always the work of Satan to keep you from experiencing the fullness of God’s forgiveness and redeeming work in your life. Forgiveness eliminates regret.
So forget the past! God has! Look ahead. God has great things in store for you, but if you keep comparing them to what you think might have been, you’ll miss the joy and the blessing of what really is.